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1978 ( MCMLXXVIII) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar, the 1978th year of the Common Era (CE) and (AD) designations, the 978th year of the Anno Domini 2nd millennium, the 78th year of the 20th century, and the 9th year of the 1970s decade.
January 2 – 1978 massacre at Multan Colony Textile Mills: On the orders of Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, paramilitary forces open fire on peaceful protesting workers in Multan, Pakistan.
January 4 – The Chilean government wins a referendum, on the legitimacy of Augusto Pinochet's rule.
January 5 – Bülent Ecevit, of CHP, forms the new government of Turkey (42nd government).
January 6 – The Holy Crown of Hungary (also known as Stephen of Hungary Crown) is returned to Hungary from the United States, where it was held since World War II.
January 10 – Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Cardenal, a critic of the Nicaraguan government, is assassinated; riots erupt against Somoza's government.
January 14 – The Sex Pistols hold their last concert, at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco.
January 15 – Ted Bundy commits an infamous murder and assault, at the Chi Omega Sorority House, at Florida State University.
January 16 – Robert F. Rock succeeds Edward M. Davis, as LAPD's interim chief.
January 18 – The European Court of Human Rights finds the British government guilty of mistreating prisoners in Northern Ireland, but not guilty of torture.
January 19 – Federal Appeals Court Judge William H. Webster is appointed FBI Director.
January 22 – Ethiopia declares the ambassador of West Germany persona non grata.
January 25– 27 – The Great Blizzard of 1978 strikes the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes, killing 70. January 28 – Richard Chase, the "Vampire of Sacramento", is arrested.
February 1 - Film director Roman Polanski skips bail and flees to France, after pleading guilty to charges of engaging in sex with a 13-year-old girl. 
February 5- 7 - The Northeastern United States blizzard of 1978 hits the New England region and the New York metropolitan area, killing about 100, and causing over US$520 million in damage.
February 6 - King Dragon operation in Arakan: Burmese General Ne Win targets Muslim minorities in the village of Sakkipara.
February 8 - United States Senate proceedings are broadcast on radio for the first time. 
February 9 - The Budd Company unveils its first SPV-2000 self-propelled railcar in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 
February 13 - Sydney Hilton Hotel bombing: A bomb explodes outside the Hilton Hotel in Sydney, Australia, killing a policeman and two civilians, and injuring several other people.
Rhodesia, one of only two remaining white-ruled African nations (the other being South Africa), announces that it will accept multiracial democracy within 2 years. Serial killer Ted Bundy is recaptured in Pensacola, Florida. 
February 19 - Egyptian raid on Larnaca International Airport: Egyptian special forces attempt to rescue several hostages in Larnaca, Cyprus; 20 Egyptian commandos are injured or killed.
February 21 - Electrical workers in Mexico City find the remains of the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan, in the middle of the city.
February 24 - Five men with mild mental-health issues from Yuba City, California disappear in the snow on their way home from a basketball game. In June, four of the bodies are discovered in the Sierra. The fifth, Gary Mathias, is never found. The circumstances surrounding their deaths remains a mystery.
February 25 - The first Legislative Assembly election is held in Arunachal Pradesh, India. February 27 - The first global positioning satellite, the Rockwell International-built Navstar 1, is launched by the United States. 
March 1 – Charlie Chaplin's remains are stolen from Cosier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland. 
March 2 – ( Soyuz 28 Aleksei Gubarev, Vladimír Remek) is launched on a rendezvous with , with the first cosmonaut from a country other than the USA or USSR (Czechoslovakian Vladimír Remek). Salyut 6
March 5 – , the debut single by Wuthering Heights Kate Bush, charts at #1 in the United Kingdom, making her the first woman to have a self-penned number one single.
March 6 – American porn publisher Larry Flynt is shot and paralyzed in Lawrenceville, Georgia.
March 8 – The first radio episode of , by The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams, is transmitted on BBC Radio 4.
March 10 – lands. Soyuz 28
March 11 – Coastal Road massacre: Palestinian terrorists kill 34 Israelis.
March 14 – Operation Litani: Israeli forces invade Lebanon.
March 15 – Somalia and Ethiopia sign a truce to end the Ethio-Somali War.
March 16 – Former Italian Premier Aldo Moro is kidnapped by the Red Brigades; 5 bodyguards are killed.
March 17 – An oil tanker, , runs aground on the coast of Amoco Cadiz Brittany.
March 22 – Karl Wallenda of The Flying Wallendas dies, after falling off a tight-rope between two hotels in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
March 26 – The control tower and some other facilities of New Tokyo International Airport, which were scheduled to open on March 31, are illegally occupied and damaged in a terrorist attack by New Left activists, forcing a rescheduling of its opening date to May 20. March 28
April 2 – debuts on Dallas CBS, and gives birth to the modern day primetime soap opera.
April 3 – The 50th Academy Awards are held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, with winning Annie Hall Best Picture.
April 7 – U.S. President Jimmy Carter decides to postpone production of the neutron bomb, a weapon that kills people with radiation, but leaves buildings relatively intact.
April 8 – Regular radio broadcasts of British Parliament proceedings start.
April 9 – Somali military officers stage an unsuccessful coup against the government of Siad Barre; security forces thwart the attempt within hours, and several conspirators are arrested.
April 10 – Volkswagen becomes the second (after Rolls-Royce in 1921-1931) non-American automobile manufacturer to open a plant in the United States, commencing production of the Rabbit, the North American version of the Volkswagen Golf, at the Volkswagen Westmoreland Assembly Plant near New Stanton, Pennsylvania, with a unionized ( UAW) workforce (the plant closes in 1992).
April 14 – 1978 Tbilisi Demonstrations: Thousands of Georgians demonstrate against an attempt by Soviet authorities to change the constitutional status of the Georgian language.
April 18 – The U.S. Senate votes 68-32, to turn the Panama Canal over to Panamanian control on December 31, 1999.
April 20 – A Soviet air defense plane shoots down Korean Air Lines Flight 902; the plane makes an emergency landing on a frozen lake.
April 25 – St. Paul, Minnesota becomes the second U.S. city to repeal its gay rights ordinance, after Anita Bryant's successful 1977 anti-gay campaign in Dade County, Florida.
April 27 – Afghanistan's president Daoud Khan is killed, and his family murdered, during a Marxist military coup d'état; Nur Muhammad Taraki succeeds him, beginning the Afghan Civil War which as of 2019 has not yet ended.  April 30 – The Marxist " Democratic Republic of Afghanistan" is proclaimed, under pro-communist leader Nur Muhammad Taraki.
May 5 – Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds gets his 3,000th major league hit.
May 9 – In Rome, the corpse of former Italian prime minister Aldo Moro, is found in a red Renault 4.
May 12 – In Zaire, rebels occupy the city of Kolwezi, the mining centre of the province of Shaba. The Zairean government asks the U.S., France and Belgium to restore order.
May 12– 13 – A group of mercenaries, led by Bob Denard, oust Ali Soilih in the Comoros; ten local soldiers are killed. Denard forms a new government.
May 17 – Charlie Chaplin's coffin is found some 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) from the cemetery from which it was stolen, near Lake Geneva. 
May 18– 19 – Belgian and French paratroopers fly to Zaire, to aid the fight against the rebels.
May 19– 20 – French Foreign Legion paratroopers land in Kolwezi, Zaire, to rescue Europeans in the middle of a civil war.
May 20 – Mavis Hutchinson, 53, becomes the first woman to run across the U.S.; her trek took 69 days.
May 22 – Exiled leaders Ahmed Abdallah and Muhammad Ahmad return to the Comoros.
May 26 – In Atlantic City, New Jersey, Resorts International, the first legal casino in the eastern United States, opens.
May 28 – Indianapolis 500: Al Unser wins his third race, and the first for car owner Jim Hall. May 29 – Ali Soilih is found dead in the Comoros, allegedly shot when trying to escape.
June 1 – The 1978 FIFA World Cup starts in Argentina.
June 6 – California voters approve Proposition 13, which slashes property taxes nearly 60%.
June 9 – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints extends the priesthood and temple blessings to "all worthy males", ending a general policy of excluding "Canaanites" from priesthood ordination and temple ordinances.
June 10 – Affirmed holds off Alydar to win the Belmont Stakes and becomes the last horse to win the U.S. Triple Crown of Horse Racing until 2015.
June 12 – Serial killer David Berkowitz, the "Son of Sam," is sentenced to 365 years in prison.
June 15 – King Hussein of Jordan marries 26-year-old Lisa Halaby, who takes the name Queen Noor.
June 16 – , starring Grease John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John is released.
Ian Botham becomes the first man in the history of the game to score a century and take eight wickets in one innings of a Test match. , which eventually becomes the world's most widely Garfield syndicated comic strip, makes its debut nationwide.
June 20 – The 6.2 Thessaloniki earthquake shakes Northern Greece with a maximum Mercalli intensity of IX ( Violent). Fifty people were killed.
June 22 – Charon, a satellite of Pluto, is discovered.
June 25 – Argentina defeats the Netherlands 3-1 after extra time to win the 1978 FIFA World Cup.
June 26 – A bombing by Breton nationalists causes destruction in Palace of Versailles.
June 29 – Actor Bob Crane is found bludgeoned to death in his Scottsdale, Arizona, apartment. The crime is never solved. June 30 – Ethiopia begins a massive offensive in Eritrea.
November 2: 8:00 pm - The Republic of Ireland's second television channel RTÉ 2 goes on air (renamed Network 2, 1988; RTÉ Network Two, 1995; N2, 1997; and RTÉ Two in 2004).
November 3 - Dominica gains its independence from the United Kingdom.
Indira Gandhi is re-elected to the Indian parliament. California voters defeat the Briggs Initiative, which was intended to bar LGBT people from working as school teachers.
November 17 - The Star Wars Holiday Special airs on CBS; this is its first and only airing.
November 18 - Jonestown incident: In Guyana, Jim Jones leads his Peoples Temple cult in a mass murder-suicide that claims 918 lives in all, 909 of them at Jonestown itself, including over 270 children. Congressman Leo J. Ryan is assassinated by members of Peoples Temple shortly beforehand.
November 19 - The first U.S. Take Back the Night march occurs in San Francisco.
November 26 - Two British commercial divers, Michael Ward and Tony Prangley, die of hypothermia and drowning in the East Shetland Basin after their diving bell plunges to the seabed at a depth of over 100 metres (330 ft).   November 30 - Publication of is suspended due to labor problems for almost a year, until November 13, 1979. The Times
January 1 - Philip Mulryne, Northern Irish footballer
January 4 - Karine Ruby, French snowboarder (d. 2009)
January 7 - Emilio Palma, Argentine citizen, first human born in Antarctica
January 10 - Kanako Mitsuhashi, Japanese voice actress
January 11 - Emile Heskey, English footballer
January 14 - Shawn Crawford, American sprinter
January 17 - Ricky Wilson, Lead singer of the Kaiser Chiefs
January 20 - Omar Sy, French actor and comedian
January 23 - Josh Thompson, American singer
January 26 - Kelly Stables, American actress
January 29 - Joice Hasselmann, Brazilian journalist, writer, activist and conservative political commentator January 31 – Brad Rutter, American game show champion (Jeopardy!)
April 2 - Nick Berg, American businessman (d. 2004)
April 5 - Franziska van Almsick, German swimmer
April 13 - Kyle Howard, American television and movie actor
April 15 - Luis Fonsi, Puerto Rican singer and songwriter
April 19 - James Franco, American actor
April 21 - Jukka Nevalainen, Finnish drummer
April 22 - Manu Intiraymi, American actor
April 23 - Tamara Czartoryski-Borbon, Spanish athlete
April 25 - Duncan Kibet, Kenyan long-distance runner
April 28 - Robert Oliveri, American former actor April 29
August 4 - Kurt Busch, American race car driver
August 9 - Daniela Denby-Ashe, English actress
August 10 - Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, Indonesian politician and former military officer
August 18 - Andy Samberg, American actor and comedian
August 20 - Noah Bean, American actor
August 24 - Rafael Furcal, Dominican baseball player
August 25 - Kel Mitchell, American actor, stand-up comedian, musician, singer, and rapper
August 26 - Amanda Schull, American actress
August 27 - Suranne Jones, English actress
August 29 - Danielle Hampton, Canadian actress
August 30 - Swizz Beatz, American record producer and rapper August 31 - Ido Pariente, Israeli mixed martial artist
September 1 - Max Vieri, Italian Australian footballer
September 3 - Tinkara Kova?, Slovenian singer and musician
September 7 - Devon Sawa, Canadian actor
September 9 - Gina Gogean, Romania artistic gymnast
September 13 - Megan Henning, American actress
September 17 - Nick Cordero, Canadian actor (d. 2020)
September 18 - Billy Eichner, American actor and comedian
September 22 - Harry Kewell, Australian footballer
September 24 - Wietse van Alten, Dutch archer
September 28 - Pastora Soler, Spanish singer
September 29 - Kurt Nilsen, Norwegian singer September 30 - Candice Michelle, American professional wrestler and model
October 1 - Katie Aselton, American actress
October 2 - Ayumi Hamasaki, Japanese singer
October 7 - Omar Benson Miller, American actor
October 9 - Nicky Byrne, Irish musician ( Westlife)
October 10 - QBoy, UK-based rapper, producer, DJ, writer and presenter
October 17 - Pablo Iglesias Turrión, Spanish politician
October 21 - Joey Harrington, American football player
October 23 - John Lackey, American baseball player
October 24 - Carlos Edwards, Trinidadian footballer
October 29 - Travis Henry, American football player October 30 - Matthew Morrison, American actor and singer
November 3 - Tim McIlrath, American singer
November 4 - Shaun Berrigan, Australian rugby league player
November 8 - Ali Karimi, Iranian football player
November 12 - Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Pakistani journalist, activist and filmmaker
November 13 - Hsu Wei Lun, Taiwanese actress (d. 2007)
November 19 - Matt Dusk, Canadian musician and singer
November 21 - Annie, Norwegian singer
November 22 - Karen O, American singer-songwriter and musician
November 23 - Destin Daniel Cretton, American film director
November 24 - Katherine Heigl, American actress
November 25 - Shiina Ringo, Japanese singer and musician
November 26 - Jun Fukuyama, Japanese voice actor
November 27 - Mike Skinner, English musician
November 28 - Aimee Garcia, American actress
November 29 - Lauren German, American actress November 30
December 4 - Lars Bystøl, Norwegian ski jumper
December 7 - Shiri Appleby, American actress
December 8 - Ian Somerhalder, American actor 
December 10 - Summer Phoenix, American actress
December 12 - Monica Bîrl?deanu, Romanian actress
December 17 - Manny Pacquiao, Filipino boxer and politician
December 19 - Patrick Casey, American screenwriter and actor
December 21 - Shaun Morgan, South African musician and singer-songwriter
December 24 - Y?ld?ray Ba?türk, Turkish footballer
December 25 - Paula Seling, Romanian singer and radio DJ
December 26 - Kaoru Sugayama, Japanese volleyball player
December 28 - John Legend, African-American singer-songwriter, pianist, and actor 
Tyrese Gibson, African-American singer, songwriter, rapper, actor, model, and screenwriter Inferno, Polish musician December 31
January 5 - Sally Eilers, American actress (b. 1908)
January 6 - Burt Munro, New Zealand motorcycle racer (b. 1899)
January 11 - Michael Bates, Anglo-Indian actor (b. 1920)
January 13 - Hubert Humphrey, 38th Vice President of the United States (b. 1911)
January 18 - Carl Betz, American actor (b. 1921)
January 22 - Herbert Sutcliffe, English cricketer (b. 1894)
January 26 - Leo Genn, English actor and barrister (b. 1905)
January 27 - Oscar Homolka, Austrian actor (b. 1898)
January 29 - Tim McCoy, American actor (b. 1891) January 30 - Marie-Louise Damien, French actress (b. 1889)
June 2 - Santiago Bernabéu, Spanish footballer, player and president of Real Madrid C.F. (b. 1906)
June 4 - Jorge de Sena, Portuguese novelist and poet (b. 1919)
June 7 - Ronald George Wreyford Norrish, British chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1897)
June 12 - Guo Moruo, Chinese archaeologist, historian, poet, politician, and writer (b. 1892)
June 17 - Robert Williams, American actor (b. 1904)
June 20 - Mark Robson, Canadian film director (b. 1913)
June 24 - Ahmad al-Ghashmi, 4th President of the Yemen Arab Republic (b. 1935)
June 27 - Josette Day, French actress (b. 1914)
June 28 - Clifford Dupont, 1st President of Rhodesia (b. 1905) June 29 - Bob Crane, American actor, drummer, radio host, and disc jockey (b. 1928)
July 1 - Kurt Student, Luftwaffe general and commander of the German airborne forces during World War II. (b. 1890)
July 3 - James Daly, American actor (b. 1918)
July 7 - Francisco Mendes, Guinea-Bissau politician, 1st Prime Minister of Guinea-Bissau (b. 1939)
July 10 - Abd ar-Razzaq an-Naif, 31st Prime Minister of Iraq (b. 1934)
July 14 - Gaston Ragueneau, French athlete (b. 1881)
July 16 - Howard Estabrook, American actor (b. 1884)
July 17 - Thayer David, American actor (b. 1927)
July 27 - Willem van Otterloo, Dutch conductor, cellist and composer (b. 1907) July 31 - Prince Rostislav Alexandrovich of Russia (b. 1902)
September 3 - Karin Molander, Swedish actress (b. 1906)
September 4 - Leonora Cohen, British suffragette and trade unionist (b. 1873)
September 6 - Adolf Dassler - Founder of Adidas (b. 1900)
September 7 - Keith Moon, English rock drummer ( The Who) (b. 1946)
September 8 - Ricardo Zamora, Spanish footballer (b. 1901)
September 12 - Frank Ferguson, American actor (b. 1899)
September 15 - Willy Messerschmitt, German aircraft designer and manufacturer (b. 1898)
September 21 - Peter Vogel, German film actor (b. 1937)
September 23 - Lyman Bostock, American baseball player (b. 1950)
September 24 - Hasso von Manteuffel, German army general (b. 1897)
September 27 - Sergei Aslamazyan, Soviet composer (b. 1897)
September 28 - Pope John Paul I (b. 1912) September 30 - Edgar Bergen, American actor and ventriloquist (b. 1903)
October 4 - Roy L. Dennis, American teenager who had craniodiaphyseal dysplasia (b. 1961)
October 8 - Karl Swenson, American actor (b. 1908)
October 9 - Jacques Brel, Belgian singer (b. 1929)
October 11 - Ruthven Todd, Scottish poet, artist, and novelist (b. 1914)
October 12 - Nancy Spungen, American groupie and girlfriend of Sid Vicious (b. 1958)
October 16 - Dan Dailey, American actor (b. 1915)
October 19 - Gig Young, American actor (b. 1913)
October 21 - Anastas Mikoyan, Russian revolutionary and Soviet statesman (b. 1895)
October 23 - Prince Roman Petrovich of Russia (b. 1896) October 28 - Geoffrey Unsworth, British cinematographer (b. 1914)
December 3 - William Grant Still, American composer (b. 1895)
December 7 - Alexander Wetmore, American ornithologist and avian paleontologist (b. 1886)
December 8 - Golda Meir, Israeli teacher, politician and stateswoman, 4th Prime Minister of Israel (b. 1898)
December 11 - Vincent du Vigneaud, American biochemist (b. 1901)
December 12 - Fay Compton, English actress (b. 1894)
December 14 - Salvador de Madariaga, Spanish diplomat, writer, historian, and pacifist (b. 1886)
December 15 - Chill Wills, American actor and singer (b. 1902)
December 17 - Don Ellis, American jazz trumpeter, drummer, composer, and bandleader (b. 1934)
December 31 - Nicolau dos Reis Lobato, East Timorese politician, acting President of East Timor (b. 1946)
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